It’s been a while since I wrote an update on this blog, and I thought today would be the perfect excuse to sit down and catch everyone up on what has been going through my mind lately! Today marks 100 days (!!!) since I left for this crazy experience called YAGM. Below I will offer ten observations, good and bad about my time so far. Enjoy!
- This YAGM thing is hard. There are so many days where I feel helpless or useless, but there are also an equal amount of days where I feel like I am being used to my full capabilities. It can be draining. Each day looks incredibly and beautifully different, but it can be so tiring. Sometimes I still feel like I’m walking through my life with sandbags attached to my feet. The last 100 days have tested me in ways that I didn’t even know were possible. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows over here, there are still days when you don’t want to get out of bed, or days when you need way more help than you want to ask for, so yes, this year is hard, but in the best ways.
- There are some things that I still haven’t gotten used to in Hungary. I’ve been talking to a lot of people back home about some of the things that we are fortunate enough to have in America that they don’t have in Hungary. Some of the things are pretty humorous, like peanut butter and macaroni and cheese. I actually had a dream the other night that I walked in to a grocery store here and found macaroni and cheese and actually cried. I was so sad when I realized it was just a dream! While I think that I have adjusted to the big things about being in Hungary (literally being halfway across the world, hardly understanding the things that are happening around me because they are in a foreign language, etc.), the little things still have me stumped!
- Expect the unexpected. There are so many times in the last 100 days that I have been reminded that God’s plan doesn’t always match my own. Coming in to my YAGM year I had many expectations about what it would be like. I thought I was going to be constantly busy helping, accompanying, or just being a part of activities. What I have gotten so far is not that. Much of this year is just enjoying being. I, admittedly, am still learning how to do this because if you know me, you know I love to plan. It is not so easy to do that here. I spend a lot of time reminding myself that even if I’m not “doing” 100% of the time, I am still accompanying and taking care of my self in the exact ways that I need to be at that moment.
- Hungarian is still *debatably* the hardest language to learn. 100 days in and I still get terrified when someone starts asking me questions (very quickly) in Hungarian. I have talked to many native English speaking friends that have lived in Szeged for 10+ years and still don’t have a handle on the language. They say that Hungarian is hardest for native english speakers to learn because their letters and vowels are totally different than ours. For example, here is a list of English vowels: A, E, I, O, U. Here is a list of Hungarian vowels: a, á, o, ó, u, ú (back vowels) and e, é, i, í, ö, ő, ü, ű (front vowels). Even though I have heard many discouraging words, I have not stopped trying to learn and use my Hungarian words when I can!
- Accompaniment looks different for everyone. I love seeing everything that my YAGM friends are doing all over the world. But, it is easy to let comparison creep in when you focus too much on them. I have often thought, “Is he/she/they doing better than me? Why does he/she/they get to travel all the time? Why does it look like he/she/they are doing so much more work than I am?” I have written many times that “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and I am assuredly still learning to accept that. My discernment of what that looks like has spilled out not only to my YAGM year but also to my personal life as well. Life is much happier when you focus on your path instead of matching others around you.
- Living in to your emotions is hard. Coming in to this year, I didn’t expect to go on an emotional rollercoaster ride. There have been days when I feel happy, sad, depressed, anxious, excited, energized, and exhausted, plus so many more. Usually at home I would just plaster a smile on my face and go about my day (because that is what is expected from us in our work driven society), but here I have been challenging myself to live in to my emotions, and really try to discern and figure out why I am feeling what I am feeling, especially if it is a negative emotion. But, this is hard, and is taking a ton of retraining, but it is healthy work!
- Asking for help is still daunting. After living in Szeged for almost 2.5 months, I expected to have it all figured out. I thought that I would know where everything was, be able to do everything for myself, and never need to ask for help. Well, 100 days later, I still need more help than I could’ve imagined. Most of you know by now that I was in the hospital here in Szeged just a few weeks ago. I also just recently completed doing all of my paperwork to obtain my VISA, and both of these experiences showed me just how much I have to rely on those around me. I needed someone to take me, help translate, and just be supportive of my as I figured this all out. It is scary to do new things by yourself, especially in a foreign country.
- Everyone in Hungary is so helpful and friendly. From the second I got here, I could tell how helpful everyone is, strangers and friends a like. People will not hesitate to help you if you look confused. I was in a grocery store the other day and I was picking up some cous cous and a man that was also picking some out started telling me all about the history of cous cous (in Hungarian of course), and even though I told him a few times that I don’t speak Hungarian, he continued to talk. I picked up a few words here and there and smiled a whole lot. I also was asked for help for the first time the other day- I was on the tram headed to teach and a man got on and did not know how to validate his ticket. I didn’t know how to explain it in Hungarian, but I got up and showed him how to do it. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone would jump up to help a stranger in the USA.
- There is a lot of English speaking. Before arriving in Hungary, I was under the impression that there would hardly be anyone that spoke English. During orientation and learning Hungarian, I felt even more like this would be true. I stressed myself endlessly over learning the proper Hungarian pronunciation and as many words as I could manage in our short two weeks of class. I was so stressed out. But, arriving in Szeged, my fears were shaken off. I realized that, thankfully, a good number of people here speak at least some English, even if it’s just the same amount of Hungarian as I speak! I think this could be partly because I live in a University city, and most students learn some English, but nothing was more comforting to me than to find people that I could communicate with.
- YAGM is so much fun, and is opening doors and ideas for the future. These last 100 days have been so much fun. Even the hard times produce stories and lessons for the future. I am learning how to cultivate worldly ideals about issues, even if I am still figuring out what they mean to me. I have the amazing opportunity to make friends with people from all around the world, and have finally found the friends that will “stick” through my time here. I have met so many amazing fellow YAGM that I love following and pray for their hearts and site placements every day. I am learning how to be interdependent and am learning how to distinguish between things I can do alone and things I need to swallow my pride and ask for help with. There has been so much learning in the last 100 days, but also so much joy. I’m sure the next 200 days will bring the same reassuring balance.
YAGM is totally different than what I thought it would be so far, but in the best way. I feel so blessed to able to be apart of these communities, both with other YAGMS and here in Szeged. It is hard to believe that it has been 100 days already, and I can’t wait to see what the other 200 have in store for me!